Multiferroics are materials which possess both magnetic order and a ferroelectric polarization.

Magnetoelectric multiferroics have the property that the magnetic and dielectric order parameters are coupled, so that the ferroelectricity can be controlled by magnetism and vice versa. magnetoelectric multiferroics have potential application in data storage, sensors and actuators. The key scientific challenges are: (i) understanding the mechanism that causes magnetoelectric coupling, and (ii) finding materials with strong magnetoelectric coupling that can operate at room temperature.


Current projects

  • Synthesis, bulk properties and investigation of magnetoelectric coupling mechanisms

    This project has been led by Dr Sunil Nair, a European Community Marie Curie Fellow.

  • Investigation of multiferroics by advanced X-ray and neutron techniques

    This project is undertaken in collaboration with Prof Des McMorrow (UCL) and scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, the Diamond Light Source (DLS), and the Swiss neutron scattering facility SINQ at the Paul Scherrer Institut.


  • Prof. Andrew Boothroyd

    Clarendon Laboratory

    Department of Physics

    Oxford University

    Oxford, OX1 3PU

    United Kingdom


     +44 (0) 1865 272376


    +44 (0) 1865 272400












    Synthesis and properties of multiferroics

    Several new multiferroic materials have been synthesized. A recent highlight is the discovery of a new multiferroic Cu3Nb2O8, which becomes ferroelectrically polar at T = 24 K simultaneous with the appearance of a generalized helicoidal magnetic structure. The results are reported in

    Cu3Nb2O8: A multiferroic with chiral coupling to the crystal structure

    R. D. Johnson, S. Nair, L. C. Chapon, A. Bombardi, C. Vecchini, D. Prabhakaran, A. T. Boothroyd and P. G. Radaelli

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 107 (2011) 137205.

    Electric field control of chiral magnetic domains in the high-temperature multiferroic CuO

    P. Babkevich, A. Poole, R. D. Johnson, B. Roessli, D. Prabhakaran, and A.T. Boothroyd

    Phys. Rev. B 85 (2012) 134428.

    Synchrotron X-ray studies

    Use of resonant magnetic X-ray scattering techniques has made it possible to determine complex magnetic structures involving several different magnetic species, such as in TbMnO3, and to observe magnetic moments on the oxygen sites, e.g. in TbMn2O5. Techniques have been developed to observe electric switching of chiral magnetic structures with circularly polarized light, and to detect femtoscale lattice distortions induced by a magnetic field through the magnetoelectric effect.

    For more details of this work see:

    Nature of the magnetic order and origin of induced ferroelectricity in TbMnO3

    S. B Wilkins, T. R. Forrest, T. A. W. Beale, S. R. Bland, H. C. Walker, D. Mannix, F. Yakhou, D. Prabhakaran, A. T. Boothroyd, J. P. Hill, P. D. Hatton, and D. F. McMorrow

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 103 (2009) 207602.

    Antiferromagnetically spin polarized oxygen observed in magnetoelectric TbMn2O5

    T. A. W. Beale, S. B. Wilkins, R. D. Johnson, S. R. Bland, Y. Joly, T. R. Forrest, D. F. McMorrow, F. Yakhou, D. Prabhakaran, A. T. Boothroyd, and P. D. Hatton

    Phys. Rev. Lett. 105 (2010) 087203.

    Circularly Polarized X rays as a Probe of Noncollinear Magnetic Order in Multiferroic TbMnO3

    F. Fabrizi, H.C. Walker, L. Paolasini, F. de Bergevin, A.T. Boothroyd, D. Prabhakaran, and D.F. McMorrow

    Phys. Rev. Lett 102 (2009) 237205.

    Femtoscale magnetically induced lattice distortions in TbMnO3

    H.C. Walker, F. Fabrizi, L. Paolasini, F. de Bergevin, J. Herrero-Martin, A.T. Boothroyd, D. Prabhakaran, and D.F. McMorrow

    Science 333 (2011) 1273.

    Facilities and Equipment in the Group

    The group has access to a range of state-of-the art equipment for sample preparation, characterisation and fundamental measurements.


    Magnetic structure of Cu3Nb2O8



    Magnetic order in TbMnO3 

    Non-resonant, charge–magnetic
    interference scattering from TbMnO3

    Image furnace for crystal growth
    by the floating-zone method